Summer of the Dress

Wednesday 17 September 2008
Alright, I'm calling it quits on the UFOs (unfinished objects for those lucky enough not to have experienced them) because it's just plain and simple draining me. Besides, a new season has rolled in and so it's time for some new creations (and probably a few stuff ups that will lead to more UFOs, but that is another story!).

I’m jumping on the ‘summer of the dress’ bandwagon, kicked off by Erin at Dress a Day with International Wear a Dress Day, taken to extreme by Melynda and her summer of lovely dresses over at Country Girl Couture, and now by Livebird her in Oz has picked up the baton and run with it, coming up with some fab creations over at Sew Retro.

I love all styles of dresses, from fitted shift dresses for work to flowing sun dresses and I certainly have the patterns and fabric to make one for each day of summer if I had the time. But to be realistic, I’m setting a goal of seven dresses – so that I could wear a different one each day for a week if I wanted to.

But to make it a little bit challenging, I’m setting these ground rules for myself:

1. the pattern has to be from the stash but be one I haven’t used before
2. the fabric has to be from the stash (although linings and notions can be bought new)
3. the dress has to be one I’ll wear this summer (ie no evening gowns made for the heck of it, unless I actually do have a black tie event to attend, which is unlikely!)

That last rule I set for myself will be the most challenging I think, given that I’m having a baby in the beginning of summer which means that I won’t have my usual body shape and will have to modify patterns accordingly, and with a new born I’m not sure of where I’ll be swanning off to in lovely dresses – I may be the best dressed (or overdressed) new mum down at the baby health clinic, the library or the shopping centre!

Ok, so the first cab off the rank is a vintage McCalls 3154 pattern, made in the same black and white check fabric I bought a few years ago from Spotlight and used for the BWOF jacket posted about here. Both fabric and pattern are from the stash so rules no. 1 and 2 met, and I will wear this to work shortly when it warms up a bit, so rule no.3 will be met also.

I’m usually wary of using patterns that only have drawings on the front and not a photo of an actual model wearing the garment because you have no way of telling what it will actually turn out like (not that I have a model’s figure and so there is always a degree of this anyway!). This pattern was no exception: it looks fantastic on the pattern drawing, but the dress came out HUGE, and I mean Homer Simpson muu-muu huge that episode when he gained 300 pounds to work from home…. Even my husband asked if this dres was for when I was 'more' pregnant!

So I am in the process of taking in a few inches at the side seams and putting darts in the back to give some shape to it. I know in the past the attitude to pregnant bodies was to hide them in tent like dresses with bows, but fashions have certainly changed and I don’t want to look too frumpy! But since I don't know when the next sunny day will be here in Sydney (the weather has been crazily changeable of late) to take a photo, here is how it is muu muu style:

And now I think I shall call it quits for the evening, I was tracing a BWOF pattern for a friend who is newbie sewist and a BWOF virgin, but I cut my finger so badly earlier this evening it leaked through my bandaid and stained the pattern, and I'm not up to retracing it right now.... Sorry Lisa, I'll get it to you soon I promise!

p.s just for you Veronica Darling: BWOF = Burda World of Fashion magazine. Surely it is only a matter of time before you are obsessed with this magazine too! Check out your local borders or big newsagency to have a nosey in one.


  1. I just visited your blog after a few months away and saw you're expecting - congratulations!

    The dress challenge sounds great, I'll look forward to seeing what you make.

    My only suggestion for new mum dresses is to make them "accessible" if you're planning to breastfeed. I had a baby last September, and the dresses I wore last summer when he was a newborn were all either button-front, wrap dresses or jersey ones with cross over fronts. I have some great shifts, but they had to stay in the wardrobe last summer as hoiking them up to my armpits would not be the most dignified way to feed in public ;)

    Having said that, if you have some comfy, feeding-friendly dresses they are fabulous because it makes getting dressed in the morning so fast.

  2. I don't know Kristy, you might want to have one dress for the really pregnant phase later. Leave a little more ease than you think is necessary...because when you get a little bigger you will be happy to throw something on that doesn't touch everything...or at least that was the way I felt!

  3. I think I used that pattern back in the early 1980's during my preggo years. I agree with might want a dress of two that are a little roomie. Being pregnant and warm in a form fitting dress is no fun!

  4. Jumping out of lurkdom to encourage you toward COLOUR!! I know you want to use up your stash, but I feel like your fabric stash is variations of grey.

    You look fabulous in rich colours. Look at that photo of you in red! Or what about a rich green or teal?

    You have fabulous sewing skill, obviously. You have a knack for making clothes that fit you in a flattering way. Take the plunge with colour this summer. Please?

  5. Even as a 'muu-muu' the dress looks lovely - I love it with the red accessories.
    Isn't the weather changeable? Even up here in Toowoomba (Qld) you never know what to expect day to day. I thought spring had finally sprung a week ago and now it is cool'ish again :(

  6. Love it! Love it! Love it!

    My ideal colour combo (black, charcoal, grey with splashes of red)! You are the best looking preggs girl around.

    Thanks for the translation, is it the same as Burda Style online? Or better?

    How great are vintage mat. dresses? I've made a few for myself (not pregs though) because I think I'm in Edward Scissorhands in a swing dress.

    Take care!

  7. Thank you so much for visiting my blog! Great to know I'm not the only one with a dwarf eucy that's not flowering yet. We'll get there! Maybe they are like magnolias that take a few years to flower. I have been loving your stylish maternity fashion. One day when I need to I will make my own too!

  8. I hate to tell you this...but..that dress will be snug on you towards the end of your pregnancy honey.

  9. I'd say leave it big as well. It's totally cute and when you are 9 months and feeling like a whale (unless you are lucky enough to not carry too big) you'll want something easy. When I was in my 8th and 9th month I did not want to do anything but sit and sleep and I spent the whole two months in a pair of black pants with a short loose dress (much like yours) over them. you may not feel like sewing later on and you'll be happy to have something cute to wear.

  10. You know, I think the dress looks fab as it is. You will be glad of some air circulation in the next few months ;))

    Back when I was last pregnant (mmmm 15 years ago) we wore tent dresses from about 3 months! And I even had a jumpsuit made from grey and white striped searsucker - boy was I stylish!

  11. I'm glad to see you made this dress - as a non-pregnant person, I had thought it was cute when you originally posted it and had saved the picture. I imagine it would be simple enough to draft from a princess-seamed sheath pattern, allowing you to adjust the fullness as much as you want.

    Hi from a lurker!